I tried to ask Patsy Wootton, the executive director of Conservative Arkansas (an allegedly conservative organization), this question on Friday afternoon — once I heard the recordings of her phone calls to the Rogers Police Department, complaining about Randy Alexander’s signs.
Della Rosa is also listed as an “executive administrator” who is on leave until March, according to Conservative Arkansas’s website.
When I told Wootton I was with The Arkansas Project and that I wanted to ask about her calling the cops on Alexander, Wootton told me she’d “never seen a fair story” on the site and hung up.
At the risk of not being “fair,” the audio of Wootton is a fine example of the perils of helicopter parenting. It’s one thing to hope your daughter wins an election. However, it’s quite another to call the police on your daughter’s opponent — apparently for the crime of not placing campaign signs in places Wootton deems proper.
If any political candidate places signs on private property without permission, obviously the owner of the property has every right to complain — or just remove the signs.
However, that’s not really much of an excuse for Wootton to start moonlighting as a private detective and calling the cops on Alexander.
We also spoke to Alexander, who told us that he had received permission to put the signs up on every piece of private property that bore an Alexander sign.
We used to think that Conservative Arkansas (which has distinguished itself in years past by endorsing just about every Republican who favored Medicaid expansion) was more or less an obscure practical joke. If we weren’t scrupulously fair, however, we’d note that it is now apparent that it is an obscure practical joke led by someone who appears to have lost a bit of perspective about her daughter’s re-election.
In her own way, Patsy Wootton has educated us all about how to deal with law enforcement officers. Here are some lessons that can be learned from listening to her interact with cops:
If you want to convince people that you are not a crazy person, when asked by police if you are the owner of the property in question, do not respond by explaining that your daughter is a state legislator. (0:30)
Similarly, if you want to convince people that you are not a crazy person, when told by the police that the appropriate complainant is the property owner, do not respond by listing other sign locations that you object to. (1:30)
Furthermore, if you want to convince people that you are not a crazy person, when you are asked about the license plate of the person you’re complaining about, do not respond with a recap of that person’s past election victories and defeats. (7:20)
I feel for the law enforcement officers who (as you can hear on this recording) are bending over backwards to be polite to Patsy Wootton, who is obviously not at all crazy. I am especially impressed by the diplomacy and tact of the officer who spent ten minutes listening to Wootton, and then very gently told Wootton that she shouldn’t be following people around any more. (12:10) Privately, I have been told by police officers and prosecutors that they have actual crimes to solve and deter, and that they don’t view resolving disputes over where political signs should be placed as central to their mission.
We appreciate that people will have different views on controversial matters. We appreciate that some people will think it is perfectly OK to try to get the police involved in the high-stakes question of where a political candidate’s yard sign should be placed. And we appreciate that some people will view a gigantic state-level welfare-spending expansion of Obamacare as a prudent, sound, and conservative policy.
We’d certainly never want to suggest that people who come to these conclusions are, well, outside the norm — or, to put it another way, a little bit nuts.
That would be unfair.